My teaching philosophy comes from my experience as a student. I see myself as a life-long learner and I try to make that love of learning contagious. My teaching is not limited to lectures or restricted to the computer lab. I engage students in learning through activities such as gaming events and hackathons. The attendees are not the only learners. Some students learn in the process of creating the event environments. Other students learn during the events by providing event support for the attendees. These experiences make their learning based in the real world.
Every student and teacher brings parts of themselves to the classroom. It shapes their approach to learning. I recognize many aspects of my background that influence who I am as a teacher.
Only girl in my junior high school computer club.
Diagnosed with a learning disability in my junior year of high school.
First generation college graduate. (First person in my family to attend college.)
Majored in Computer Science and Secondary Education.
Worked in industry as a programmer and incident response team member.
My teaching experience includes high school and college. Over more than twelve years, I have taught multiple class structures. These include:
Once, twice, and thrice per week class meetings
Large sections (90+ students)
In-person, on-line, and hybrid formats
Honors student projects integrated into classes
Master’s thesis chair and member
At the undergraduate level, I have taught freshmen through senior classes including two general education courses. One of these general education courses belongs to the Center of Academic Excellence - Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). As part of the CAE-CDE program, all sections of the course must follow the same curriculum and assessments. These courses also have to be coordinated across sections, campuses and instructors. For sections of my ethical hacking class, I require students to participate in the National Cyber League (NCL). NCL gives students a chance to learn while playing in a safe and stimulating platform.
Technology is driven by skills so learning it should be skills-focused. I believe a hands-on classroom makes learning more natural for students. They don’t have to struggle with abstract concepts in a lecture and then have to transform concepts into action on their own. Whether it’s programming, cybersecurity, or simulations, I want my students to get their hands dirty early.
Learning should also go beyond the classroom. I am performing a disservice to my students if I confine learning to the classroom. There are many opportunities for learning outside the classroom during a semester. STEM career fairs hosted by the Career Services Office present the chance to hold a Resume Bootcamp or a LinkedIn Workshop. I have found student organizations love such events. Then there are learning events so big that many student organizations work together to host them. Gaming events and hackathons are ideal. The students putting on the events learn about the technical details like deep freezing lab desktops and creating and deploying images. Students attending the events learn new or advanced skills from the event activities. These are my favorite teaching experiences.
The phrase “if you can see it, you can achieve it” sounds inspirational, however, what if you do not see it? Students from an underrepresented, or unrepresented population, may not see themselves in any of their instructors. As a female teacher of STEM, I am keenly aware of how few role models many of my students have. It saddens me that many of my students experience the same sense of isolation and being alone that I experienced over twenty years ago. I try to model the act of building a community. To that end, I created the Women's Weekly Get Together. It is a safe space for any student taking a STEM course and identifying as non-male to meet others in a casual, friendly environment. Male allies also visit our space. Other faculty support and participate in the Women’s Weekly Get Together. The sense of community does exist, but must constantly be maintained.
Along with teaching the content of my courses and creating a sense of community for women in STEM, I feel responsible for teaching my students about the professional world. They must understand that as technology is ever evolving, they will need to continuously keep their skills updated. The best way I know to do this is to share with my students what courses, workshops, seminars, and bootcamps I am attending. I share information I find with my students about workshops and the like that they may want to consider. It sets an example for them that I do not just tell them to keep up-to-date, I do it myself.